By John Shumway

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Preseason football games are, as Coach Mike Tomlin says, all about “getting 90 down to 52.”

So who would ever suspect controversy would rise from an incomplete pass with 10:18 on the clock in the third quarter? That’s when a sideline pass from rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph fell incomplete. The ball ended up next to the 20-yard marker and just feet away from Eagles Radio Network sideline reporter Howard Eskin.

On the broadcast, Eskin told the guys in the booth, “I saw the ball boy pick it up and squeeze it like it was a marshmallow. It was so under-[inflated] now the NFL is examining that football. I don’t know if this quarterback has small hands and needed it under [inflated]. It was clearly, clearly, under [inflated] and it’s being examined by the NFL right now.”

He followed the on-air comments with a tweet.

The report was picked up and spread across social media like air rushing from a punctured football. Did the NFL have another Deflategate on its hands? The Steelers deferred all questions to NFL headquarters. The reports were so rampant it prompted a very quick response from the NFL to set the record straight.

NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora issued a statement saying the ball in question was “defective.”

“All footballs were in compliance with NFL rules following the pregame inspection process and all proper procedures were followed. In the third quarter, a football that was found to be defective was removed from play and will be sent back to Wilson for review.”

While Steelers fans accused Eagles fans of crying sour grapes since the Steelers beat the defending Super Bowl champs, Eskin was quick to return to Twitter: “I’ve now been told there have been defective FBs this preseason and although I clearly saw deflated FB I now believe it was not intentional and trust #NFL release.”

The issue of deflated footballs gained national attention when the New England Patriots were accused of using them during the 2015 AFC Championship Game.

Following a long investigation that was drawn out in court, quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for four games. The team was also fined $1 million and had to surrender two draft picks.

Comments (5)
  1. eshults5 says:

    Lol who cares though? IT’s a preseason game and it means absolutely nothing!

  2. 1miken1 says:

    the only new reports worse than what a team is doing during the national anthem

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